September sales tax collections off 19.9 percent

Steamboat Springs numbers are down about 17.4 percent year to date

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— City of Steamboat Springs sales tax collections are down about 19.9 percent for September, totaling $1.15 million compared with $1.44 million in September 2008.

The city’s sales tax collections are down nearly 17.4 percent year to date, still less than the 18 percent threshold planned in this year’s budget. Bob Litzau, the city’s interim finance director, said Tuesday that the city now has additional leeway regarding that threshold, because the city is currently not required to return sales tax revenues to the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Author­ity.

“The general fund overall is down about 15 percent,” Litzau said. “I think we’re probably going to be within the 18 percent” this year.

Litzau said that if sales tax revenues fall 18 percent or more below 2008 sales tax revenue, the Steamboat Springs City Council would need to authorize use of city reserves or additional budget cuts to balance the 2009 budget. City Manager Jon Roberts said Tuesday that the city has $11 million to $12 million in total reserves, about $5 million to $6 million of which is unrestricted and available to boost the general fund.

City Council President Cari Hermacinski said Tuesday night that each 1 percent of sales tax revenue represents about $180,000. She said the City Council likely would need to dip into reserves to balance the budget, if necessary, rather than cut expenses if revenues continue to slide.

“Cutting $180,000 — or $360,000 — in the last two months (of the year) is probably not feasible,” she said.

Steamboat’s year-to-date sales tax collections are $12.6 million, compared with $15.3 million by this time in 2008.

The city released its sales tax figures Tuesday. The numbers are broken down by category and by area.

Sporting goods was the only category that posted an increase for September compared with the same month in 2008. Its collections were about 2.2 percent higher than last year’s, $49,001 compared with $47,927 in September 2008.

Categories that saw decreases were miscellaneous retail, down 25.7 percent; lodging, down 14.4 percent; utilities, down 13.4 percent; restaurants, down 9.7 percent and liquor stores, down 7.5 percent.

Every area saw a decrease in sales tax collections from September 2008 to September 2009. Collections were down 36 percent in western Steamboat, 23 percent regionally, 19.3 percent in the mountain area, 14.5 percent in town and 13.2 percent along the U.S. Highway 40 corridor.

Building-use tax was down 96.1 percent from September 2008 — $28,338 this September compared with $723,040 last. Building-use tax is down 63.9 percent year to date.

Blythe Terrell contributed to this report.

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